Guest Voices: From the Curator

George Osodi (b. 1974, Nigeria), De money series no. 1, 2009

Today, our guest post comes to use from a very unique perspective: that of the curator for Earth Matters, Dr. Karen E. Milbourne. As you’ll discover below, Dr. Milbourne worked for years to make Earth Matters happen – below she shares her experience of finally seeing the show open to the public here at the National Museum of African Art:

It’s a funny thing to be a curator when an exhibition opens.  It’s both thrilling and nerve-wracking to see the works of art and ideas all come together: do they fit together as I envisioned?  Will the artists be pleased?  Will the ideas translate to visitors?  With Earth Matters, one of the most rewarding aspects was having 18 of the artists choose to participate in the opening events. Nathalie Mba Bikoro gave a performance that moved viewers to tears; Ingrid Mwangi burst into song; and Georgia Papageorge asked us each to think about what was our individual and collective responsibility toward the earth.  This exhibition speaks to issues that affect us all – whether in Africa, the United States, or elsewhere – and these artists are remarkable in their ability to help us understand our human relationship to the land upon which we live, breath, and frame our days.

ImageA crowd looks down on Hassan Echair’s piece, Ascension, at the opening of Earth Matters (via Twitter)

I first began work on this project 4 years ago when I wrote my first grant that helped fund part of the research.  The research has involved traveling to Morocco, Senegal, Nigeria, Gabon, Angola, South Africa, and Kenya.  The issues and their expression are bigger than one place.  It is my hope that  by beginning to understand the different materials of the earth, what they can and have meant, where they come from, how the land has been interpreted, and how we protect it, we might better understand ourselves so that we can in full consciousness choose how we want to move forward in drawing upon the earth’s  resources and disposing of the things we no longer use.  It is a show about choices, and I hope that you will choose to see it.

Head over to Twitter to see Dr. Milbourne’s answers to last Friday’s Earth Matters Q&A, and leave your thoughts in the comments. Make sure to check back next Monday, and every Monday after that, for more unique perspectives on how the Earth matters to all of us.


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